Saturday, 23 May 2009

Break's Over... Sort of...

The last rites were finally read to ‘Prison Break’ this week and the life support machine was mercifully turned off.

The remnants of ‘The Fox River Eight’ and the various waifs and strays they’ve picked up along the way had been treading water for two and a half seasons and FOX for once shitcanned a show too late.

I made my feelings perfectly clear on where ‘Prison Break’ had gone wrong in the first ever instalment of TV or not TV so I have no intention of repeating myself here (although I inevitably probably will).

I merely want to review the finale, speculate on what they could possibly have left to explore in the ridiculously unnecessary two-hour ‘special’ we’re due next week and try and remember the good times. Because much like my TV hero Tony Almeida, although ‘Prison Break’ may have become bad to the bone it used to be brilliant (in Tony’s case that would be – used to not be a murderous psycho).

The two-hour finale proved one thing above all others, that this fourth season of ‘Prison Break’ could have been condensed into a two hour episode and not lost anything in the translation.

That’s not to say that is a good thing though, the opening two hours of this season which were heavily Writer’s Strike influenced, were just awful to watch as so much happened, the events of this season’s opening and closing episodes would take an entire season to unfold on ‘The Wire’ or ‘Law and Order’… It’d even take Jack Bauer at least a couple of hours.

My point though is that literally nothing happened for most of the season, if we’d only had the events of this last episode, but stretched across the season then it may have worked. Logic has never been central to the show’s overriding themes but as the show wound down they seemingly completely tossed it out of the window, when they should have been trying to tie everything up and give us a thrilling finale not another instalment of ‘pass the Syclla’.

I said though that I hadn’t come here to assassinate a show that had me hooked for at least two seasons, so let’s try and stay positive; the finale was a fitting end to the point the show had got to and there were plenty of moments to like about it if you take them on their own rather than as part of the whole picture.

William Mapother who plays Ethan on ‘Lost’ turned up as a Fed and proved once and for all that he is just about the creepiest looking guy on TV ever.

His character was involved in one of the finale’s only real moments of comedy when Self, after being reduced to a vegetative state, was ordered to write down Michael and Linc’s location and instead wrote down “Kiss my Ass” (the other being when Sucre & C-Note had T-Bag hanging upside down in that chair).

In truth it was quite sad to see how Self ended up, he might not have been in the show as long as most of the others but he became a big part of the show during his short time there and after the nice little moment last week that revealed why he’d double-crossed Michael and co. he seemed more sympathetic. His fate left him a vegetable, and coupled with the completely unnecessary murder of his wife last week it seemed cold. Self deserved better.

The myriad plot holes in the season and the finale became completely irrelevant to me though the second a slightly chunkier C-Note returned, and when Kellerman also reappeared, all was forgiven, especially seen as we got to see Michael do his best Seinfeld to Newman impression: “Kellerman!”

Seeing all the characters reunite was fun but the scene at the end where they all signed their immunity papers made me chuckle. I stopped and thought about it and couldn’t believe that they were all amicably sitting in a room together, after all, in the past:

- Mahone had forced C-Note to try and kill himself.

- Mahone had also tried to kill C-Note, Sucre, Michael and Linc on more than one occasion and succeeded in killing Michael and Linc’s Dad.

- Kellerman had shot Mahone and left him for dead.

- Kellerman had also framed Linc’s son for murdering his own Mother and let’s not forget that he tortured Sara…

Yet here they all were shooting the breeze at the U.N. The writers did at least try and make us think they weren’t completely ignoring the past by throwing in the odd lingering look between some of them but that scene was just indicative of the lazy writing that has plagued the show since Michael and the gang busted out of Fox River. That said, they at least harked back to the days of season 1 by having Danny Hale’s widow spit in Kellerman’s face during the flash forward that revealed his new life as a congressman.

I was never her biggest fan, but since they brought back several characters to resolve their fates, where the hell was Gretchen? Have I missed something? I thought they left her for dead or for the cops to pick her up, but as we never actually saw what happened I assumed she’d be back. Did she actually die or is her fate being left up in the air for the two hour special we’re getting this week?

I don’t quite understand the need for this ‘Final Break’, these past two episodes were billed as the last ever episodes but they clearly weren’t, I honestly don’t see what else there is to explore with this special and why it couldn’t have been included in the series rather than as a stand alone special which is now out of chronology anyway given that we leapt four years ahead at the end of the final episode.

Which leads me to my biggest gripe with the season finale: Michael’s death. I like that they killed off a main character and arguably the most popular character on the show - that takes balls. But they’ve done it in such a lame way that all the shock and awe has been completely sucked out of the twist.

My hope is that the special will reveal how and why Michael died, but in the context of the finale the scene at his grave had no emotional clout, if they were going to kill him why not do it on screen in a heroic way, that way the final scene could have been heart-breakingly emotional, instead it felt tacked on to give us some sort of shocking ending.

I did like the final shot though, as they all walked off towards the sea as Michael’s headstone was in the foreground, Mahone and Sucre had their arms round each other – when were they ever that close!?

Again, there is a lot that could be explained in the special, but this is ‘Prison Break’ we’re talking about here, so we’ll probably get no answers and be left to speculate, when the writers have had enough time and notice to tie things up properly within the framework of the series without giving us specials and flash forwards.

You might not think it from my critique, but I did actually enjoy the finale, if nothing else it was dumb fun, without the returning characters I think it would have been a let down, but if you checked your brain at the door it had quite a nostalgic theme to it and was probably the best we could have hoped for given the circumstances.

‘Prison Break: The Final Break’ is a feature length special that will air Wednesday 27th May on Sky1 @ 10pm.

In honour of the end of ‘Prison Break’ here are a few things that I will remember fondly about the show:

- The first ever episode (it was just nuts how gripping it was).

- In truth, most of the first season (it wasn’t without it’s missteps but that DVD box set is unputdownable [my bold attempt at creating an Iain Dowie word])

- The introduction of Mahone and his subsequent turning from ‘bad’ guy to ‘good’ guy and becoming the best character on the show in the process (thank the TV Gods for the cancellation of ‘Invasion’ because without Mahone the past few seasons would have been a painful viewing experience).

- C-Note and T-Bag’s nicknames for other characters and, in particularly, each other (seeing this two interacting again in the finale reminded me of how much I miss season 1 and the first half of season 2 when they were all on the run together trying to get hold of Westmoreland’s money).

- Sara’s ‘death’ – never before have I cheered a death as much as when it seemed she been beheaded, I have problems I know… (it’s just a shame they undid it all that good work by bringing her back).

- The ingenuity of Michael’s original breakout plan and that tattoo (I remember trying to explain the plot of the show to someone when it debuted: “he has the blueprints of the prison tattooed on his body… but it’s good, honestly”).

And how could I forget…

- Robert Wisdom’s Lechero and his accent (about the only bright spot of season 3 and the source of many a bad impression from yours truly).

Goodbye ‘Prison Break’. You shall be missed… sort of.

Other Televisual Musings this Week:

- I singled out ‘Lie to Me’ as a show to watch the week before last and I hadn’t had a chance to watch the first episode when I posted last week’s blog but I’ve now checked it out and I have to say I’m impressed.

I mean, sure, it’s pretty by the numbers stuff (I called the killer and his motive before they figured it out) and Lightman could be House’s Brother but Roth has enough charisma to carry the entire cast (even that wooden Michelle Rodriguez-alike) and he makes this show. ‘Lie to Me’ is not going to win any awards and if it’s dwindling viewing numbers are anything to go by, and given that it’s on FOX, it may not be around much longer.

For now though enjoy a well put together show featuring one of our finest acting exports chewing the scenery in grand style.

- ‘Lost’s season finale aired this week and all I have to say is “are you shitting me?” Jack wanted to blow up a nuke just so he could have another shot with Kate – yeh, that’s worth killing everyone for.

When are the writers going to learn that we don’t give a fuck about Jack and even less so Kate? We’ve had the two of them rammed down our throats from the get go and they have become two of the show’s most dull characters.

And another thing, Juliet better not be dead, it’s like Evangeline Lilly has some sort of hold over the writer’s to get rid of every other remotely attractive woman in the show until she is the only eye-candy we have left and since day one I just haven’t got it with her.

The highlight of a pretty lacklustre finale though was Sawyer putting a hurting on Jack (something I’ve been wanting to do for five years).

His low blow was particularly nice, but as if Jack could take Sawyer, Sawyer would have absolutely owned him but oh no this is the Jack show so the only way Sawyer could get one over on him was the low blow. I sometimes think ‘Lost’ would have benefited greatly had they stuck to the original script that had Jack being ripped in half by the smoke monster in the first episode.

- ‘The Wire’ meanwhile just goes from strength to strength in its second season. I was convinced I’d hate the dock workers after becoming so emotionally invested in the Barksdale crew in season 1.

I’m already hooked into the lives of Sobotka and his workers though and can’t wait to see what happens with them. I can’t say it enough but never has a show lived up to the hype like this one has, it is just brilliant.

- The long wait was over and I finally got my hands on Eminem’s ‘Relapse’ this week and man what a return.

Slim Shady is definitely back with one of his darkest albums yet, I’d say it’s definitely up there with the first two in terms of darkness and while it’s not as beat heavy as ‘The Eminem Show’ and ‘Encore’, with Dre on production there is never a dull moment.

He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in my mind he’s the artist of our generation and this album proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s still the best lyricist out there.

TV Moment of the Week:

Robert Kilroy-Silk turning up on ‘The Apprentice’ selling hand-made rocking horses.

Seriously, how much did that guy look like him? And I believe his conversation with the massive bollocked Debra went a little something like this:

“Are you and your brother well known…?”

“Bitch, I’m Kilroy!”


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